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Tips for Blind College Students on Working with Your Professors

Categories: Blind or Visually Impaired

College campusThe drama of acceptance, the waitlist, and rejection is over. High school is ending, or it’s becoming a distant memory. Time to sit back and relax, right? Not if you’re blind or visually impaired. Maybe not ever. But if you’re blind or have low vision, there’s so much to do! Over the summer Learning Ally will talk about what you can do now to ensure success during college. Why prepare during the summer? Because you’ll constantly be preparing for the next four years, if not for the rest of your life. You will need to get used to doing things ahead of time, even when no one else around you seems to. We are releasing a series of blog entries which talk about all of the types of preparation you will need to begin.

Meet Your Professors

If you’re lucky, your disabilities office has helped you to register early for courses, or you already know the courses you will need for the upcoming semester. Once you find out the names of your instructors, contact them as soon as possible to introduce yourself and to obtain a copy of the class syllabus. Many instructors check their email, even when they aren’t teaching, and they will probably appreciate your introduction in advance. Even if they don’t have their syllabus completed yet, your professors may be able to give you the list of books you will need for the upcoming semester. Having this list early will give you time to reach out to Learning Ally, NLS, Bookshare, and other book providers to find out what books they already have. This will also give you time to scan books which are not available or to find someone to help you do that. Before classes start or during your very first week of classes, make an appointment with your professor during office hours to introduce yourself more fully as a student and as a learner. Remember to go into this introduction thinking of it as a conversation. Professors are teachers, and although some of them may feel apprehensive about teaching a student who is blind or visually impaired, they will usually want to know the best ways they can help. They will also probably take more interest in you if they think of you as a student who happens to be blind rather than a blind person who happens to be a student. For more tips on connecting early and positively with your instructors, visit our College Success website, particularly the section of our curriculum entitled Managing Professors. Once you’re there, check out Ellen Trief’s article, “Contacting Instructors and Administrators,” or my list of best practices, “Personalized Accommodation Letters."
Kristen Witucki Kristen Witucki is the community coordinator for students who are blind or visually impaired at Learning Ally and is excited to be working on the College Success Program. Her past roles at Learning Ally have included member, advocate, intern, product support representative and product tester, among others. She loves to teach and to write and lives in New Jersey with her husband and their four-year-old son.
Mentor Hoby WedlerStart the next school year strong by getting advice from our amazing College Success Program mentors. Like Kristen, they are all individuals who are blind or visually impaired and have succeeded in college. To learn more or request a fall 2015 mentoring session, visit www.LearningAlly.org/CollegeSuccess.